Video games go through trends. Zombies were popular for more than a decade, while extreme sports captured fans' imagination in the aughts. Bald space marines had their day but gave way to more varied protagonists.
In the new decade, the cyberpunk genre has picked up steam, fueled by the buzz surrounding the recent release "Cyberpunk 2077."
Ape Tribe Games just released "Disjunction," a retro-style stealth genre title that checks off all the cyberpunk bona fides. Powerful conglomerates? Bishop-Krauss is the defense contractor with all the robots and drones. Dystopian society? The U.S. went through an economic collapse, and a giant shantytown called Central City has risen in New York's Central Park. Conspiracy? Central City leader Lamar Hubbard has been framed and is jailed by the police department.
Amid this backdrop, players take on the role of three protagonists — Frank, Joe and Spider. They're strangers at first, but players discover that their dramas intertwine. Frank is a private investigator who looks into Lamar's suspicious case. Joe is a father searching for justice after the death of his estranged daughter. Spider is a hacker who is trying to fight the pull of the family business.
In "Disjunction," players control each of these characters as they sneak through maps crawling with thugs, security guards and robots. The overhead perspective and controls will remind players of "Hotline Miami," but instead of tense gunfights and brawls, Ape Tribe's project focuses on stealth.
What's notable is that there's no single solution for each level. Frank, Joe and Spider each has unique abilities.
Frank is the most powerful character, with the Deadeye ability and a silent stun gun. Joe, with his cybernetics, can take more damage and deliver the pain as long as players remember to use the combat stim. Meanwhile, Spider is the more cerebral protagonist. Her special ability to turn invisible helps players avoid conflict.
"Disjunction" hits the genre beats one would expect, but it's the tight and polished stealth mechanics that help it break new ground.
Platform: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC.